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Energy CostsIN CHARLOTTEMarch 22, 2022by AndrewCommon Electrical Mistakes a Homeowner Might Do

DIY projects around the house are usually good ways to take care of something that needs to be done. Maybe you can even add value to your property. Doing a job DIY style may save some money, too. With electrical jobs, though, or anything involving electricity, more caution and know-how is needed before picking DIY over a pro. There are common electrical mistakes a homeowner might make. Unlike other projects, an electric miscue can be a hazard, causing major damage, a fire or even electrocution. So, before messing with wires, circuits, outlets and GFCIs, take some time to be careful.

Improper Grounding and Bonding

Grounding is absolutely necessary to make electricity and a home system safe. Every electric circuit has to have a ground wire so electricity is safely grounded into the earth.

Bonding involves attaching conductive equipment correctly to the system ground. Without this security, you encounter the risk the breaker won’t trip when it should, such as when you get a short circuit. Professional electricians know this, but a DIY’r might not.

Not Using a GFCI

A GFCI outlet, a ground fault circuit interrupter, is needed for shock and electrocution protection for any outlet near water. Outlets in kitchens, bathroom, garages, on decks or anywhere which could have moisture or water nearby on a regular basis should have GFCI outlets. Proper installation of a GFCI outlet can be complicated. It means working with two sets of terminals. It’s possible to connect it incorrectly and, if it’s wrong, the GFCI won’t work as meant to.

Wiring a GFCI Wrong

GFCI outlets keep you safe from a shock but cutting the electricity instantly when there’s a change in the current. A GFCI has two sets of terminals. One is the “line” for the incoming power. One is the “load” for protecting everything on the other side of the outlet. If this is mixed up or installed wrong, you won’t be getting the safety part of a GFCI outlet.

Not Using a GFCI
A GFCI outlet, a ground fault circuit interrupter

Circuit Overload

A pro electrician knows about testing load capacity so a circuit won’t overload. An amateur might add too much to a circuit without testing load capacity. Typically, you shouldn’t exceed a normal 14-2 wire and a 15-amp breaker.

Outlet or Power Strip Overload

Outlets and power strips might have spots for multiple plugs. It’s still very possible to overload it with too many appliances or devices plugged in, then running, at once. You can short or fry your system, or what’s plugged in at the time. It’s smart to know the amps each appliance, especially major ones, use. One major appliance or power-user per circuit is another good rule.

Bad Connections

Faulty, incorrect or loose wire connections is another frequent home DIY electrical mistake. They may be connected without a wire nut or with a wrong fitting. This means the connection won’t be watertight. If they’re metal, then they’re not bonded. A faulty connections can cause electric shorts or other problems downstream from the connection.

No or Wrongly-Used Junction Box

If you’re adding a new outlet or light fixture, you need to use a junction box. As a matter of fact, anywhere an electrical connection is made, it should be within a junction box.

This rule is about safety in a number of ways. Using a junction box properly protects you and your family, the whole electric system, it stops sparks and heat which could cause a fire. Junction boxes can’t be buried or concealed in walls, floorings or ceilings. They must be mounted flush with drywall and easy to access for when repairs are required.

Junction boxes are made to shield electric wiring and connections from damage. If you put connections outside of a box, it doesn’t help at all.

Loose, Worn Outlets

Outlets should be securely mounted. It outlets are loose, they could move and be insecure. This may cause electrical arcing and a fire hazard. Shorts, arcs or sparks can damage anything plugged into the outlet at the time.

Putting in Wires Without a Clamp

Wires or cables should be secured with a clamp. Without this simple protection, connections and components can wear or break faster. In metal boxes, edges, corners or other wires can wear or cut wires. In smaller plastic boxes, clamps aren’t required, but wires or cables can be stapled within eight inches of the box. Larger plastic boxes have built-in clamps and wires should be stapled within a foot of the box. Cords should be clamped to metal boxes with an accepted clamp. Some metal boxes have built-in clamps. You can buy clamps separately.

Mixed Up Polarity

Perhaps one of the most hazardous of all home electric errors is mixing up the neutral and hot wires. Reversed polarity risks severe or fatal electrocution and significant damage to electronics, appliances or a whole structure. A professional knows how to effectively install or work with wires, outlets and devices to make sure everything’s safe.

Using Incorrect Wires

One more common mistake is using the wrong wire for the particular job. For example, you can use too small a gauge for the circuit’s amps. It’s possible to use indoor-only wire for an outdoor use. With a mismatch, you could have a fire hazard, a water plus electricity hazard or overheating.

Not Protecting Plastic-Coated Wires

Most DIY’rs know wires should be protected and not left exposed. Wires inside the framing of a structure may be forgotten, though. These wires can still be a hazard. Plastic-coated wires, often inside the framing, can still wear, corrode, age and be a hazard if left unprotected.

Wires Cut too Short

DIY electricians might cut wires too short. It’s smarter to error a little too long and leave the extra wire extending from a junction box. Instead, stretched, strained wire can cause poor connections and faster wear or friction.


Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.